never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: May, 2013

fun house

Out of the last twenty years, I estimate I’ve spent at least sixteen of them living alone. There are wonderful advantages to living alone, but for me it’s also been fertile ground for existential fear and angst, so I’m really, really looking forward to my roommate moving in this weekend.

I loved this piece and the fact that the issue of growing old alone (and often childless) is coming to the forefront. It’s also making me feel good about my decision to move back to a smaller city where I feel more embedded socially:

Moore has been careful about selecting as housemates women who get along, but who also have a sense of independence. “All of us, we have our own separate lives,” she says. “We do our own separate things, but we’ll meet up in the kitchen and chitchat. And then we’ll all go our different ways, which makes it nice. None of us are joined at the hip, and yet we all live together and do our own thing and live in the same house.”


Hopefully I won’t remain on the sexual sidelines for long, as I’ve already got a few flirtations going, and an old fling has started calling (someone I didn’t want to take up with again, so I’ll have to decide how to handle that– afraid of going back to a problematic situation I fled six years ago). I’m not actively searching for a partner but am coming across some potential candidates nonetheless. I certainly can relate, however, to this sentiment:

On the whole, I tend to steer clear of the subject of sex. Well, here, anyway for fear of being bombarded by fucking weirdo trolls. And even though I completely agree with James Salter – America’s neglected genius, according to the big profile of the writer in yesterday’s Observer – that the sexual life is “the real game of the grownup world”. In Saturday’s Guardian review of his new novel, All That Is, it said that “the cycle of meeting, flirting and fucking forms the book’s basic dramatic unit.”

Well, certainly it forms MY basic dramatic unit, and everybody else’s, even if some don’t see it quite that way, or aren’t so quick to admit it.

Times in my life there have been longish periods without sex, but of course during those periods it never occurs to one that anyone else on the planet is experiencing or has ever experienced a fallow period. You see the world as a place where everyone else is at it like dogs. Then it suddenly happens again, and you think, phew! Back in the land of (grownup) living. You feel part of the adult human race again, where you rightly belong. Not in some throwback virginal space that infantilises you, somehow, so that whenever you go to a fucking movie or read a sex scene in a novel or see some couple eating each other’s faces on the pavement, you feel like a child again, cut off from the mysterious world of grown-ups.

the what ifs and the whys

I have to prevent myself from going down these paths as well:

Sometimes, I feel a bit sorry for myself. At first, it feels quite good to indulge in it, but after a few minutes it starts to feel like shit. Because then the ‘story’ in my head that goes with the feelings will start up – the one that begins with words like ‘if only’ and ‘what if I’d’ or ‘why didn’t I’ and which all boil down to a fairly core position: Why me?

I once heard someone say that whenever he thinks “why me” he will then consider “why not me.” Somehow that shift in perspective seems to help.


the long and short of it

“You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bullshit. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years.”— Chris Rock

Last night I went to the birthday party of an old friend who just turned fifty. To my surprise, he now has a toddler and another baby on the way. When I last saw him six years ago, he was living with roommates and still struggling to finish his PhD. He’s not married to the mother though, and it seems like their relationship is a tenuous one. Like I’ve written before, if I had another decade I could probably pull off the baby thing too, although I don’t know if I’d want to at fifty.

I met another man at the party, single and around my age, who is suddenly itching to move to L.A. He’s become intrigued by the history of the place and feels, after a lifetime here, that he needs to experience the challenge of living in a major city.

I am glad I had that experience; I feel like I would have missed out on something if I hadn’t. The thing is, life may go by quickly, but it’s also very long. The human species seems to be transitioning from short lives involving multiple children to long lives and few or no children.

Yet the expectation remains, especially for women, that life changes will revolve around marriage and kids. What happens when, as increasingly seems to be the case, those don’t arrive? The grand majority of us have fairly humdrum careers, so four or five decades of slowly climbing the ladder at the same workplace is probably not enough to provide life with zest and variety and meaning. Society still seems to expect, however, that we will all play it “safe” and not make any big changes unless they involve pairing up.

Travel, career switches, sabbaticals, moves, and deep immersion in hobbies or alternative lifestyles are all things I see becoming the wave of the future. Unfortunately I’ve been a bit of a pioneer, which has been a lonely and misunderstood role to play, but I feel the ground shifting and see people making unusual choices all around me.

I only half agree with Chris Rock. Yes, life is long, but there can be a lot of change in fifty years.

match point

One of the basic rules of tennis applies here: If you want to improve your skills, you need to play someone who is (at a minimum) at your own level. As sophisticated as a 20-something may be, she will be more so—with a more exquisite bullshit detector—in her 40s. When older men date much younger women, they cheat themselves out of an opportunity to be matched with a partner with the maturity to see them as they really are. Depression, the research shows, peaks for men in their mid-to-late 40s. In the face of statistics like those, middle-aged men can’t afford to choose partners who lack the life experience to provide the right kind of challenge.

livin’ the dream

So far I’ve signed up for Spanish class and am researching sewing classes. My roommate moves in at the end of the month, and I will be joining the communal farm next week. In the meantime I’m gradually reconnecting with people and social outlets.

I’ve decided to pass on applying for those jobs in my field and will give it another two or three months of job searching before I reconsider caving.

I’m really doing this.

the physical world

I used to joke in L.A. that I was living in a “brokedown palace” because I never fixed anything in my apartment. I didn’t want to repair or replace items since I didn’t know if I’d be staying.

When it came time to move, I threw almost everything out. Now I’m paying the piper, finally replacing all those items that I didn’t deal with before.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the physical world so have had less time for the virtual. I’ve been further consumed by adjusting to a new city. Hopefully things will calm down shortly and the writing bug will get me again.

I will say this whole move has been surreal. The other night night I was lying in bed finding it hard to believe that I couldn’t just jump in my car and drive over to Sunset Boulevard.

But I’m slowly adjusting.

the caving

Community college is looking a lot less expensive than I expected, and I was excited about signing up, but the health insurance is now looking like not such a good deal. Argh.

A couple of jobs in my old career field are open, and I think I’d be a shoe-in, but neither are particularly appealing. But I might cave.


Today in America, four out of five families fall outside the traditional notion of a mom at home and a dad at work and a bunch of kids in the yard with the picket fence. And while some certainly see this as a cause for concern, arguably a similar majority does not. Just as our idea of America — of race and citizenship and belonging — have expanded, albeit with great struggle, over the centuries to include new communities and identities, our idea of family is always expanding. Whether it’s grandparents raising their grandchildren or single mothers adopting children on their own or families like mine with two parents of the same-sex or families blended by second (or third or fourth) marriages, our ideas and even our ideals about what makes a “family” have stretched to accommodate reality. Today, a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage — just one sign of how our collective definition of family is evolving, for the better.